How I Generated Horror Book Covers With AI
AI can create horror, oh and what horror
Halloween is not around the corner but that’s not an excuse to skip reading terrifying tales that make your spine shiver. Stories that keep you awake at night covered in goosebumps. Add AI on top of that and you’ve got the recipe for bestseller worthy horror.
A book consists of mandatory characteristics like title, description and reviews which are fundamental to every book but what I believe ties everything together is the cover. For me the cover of a book is what incentivizes me to end up purchasing it.
Creating illustrations and drawings related to your book can be costly and hard to get right quickly. Say we have a scary story, albeit for kids, maybe an ode to the greatest series of children horror books, Goosebumps by R.L. Stine.
Writing books regardless of the genre is arduous and takes a lot of skills from storytelling to illustrating and one person cannot alone master everything, that’s where AI comes in.
I’ve already showcased what AI can do when it’s tasked with generating unique, artsy images from an input prompt and with some keywords but in this article I’ll try to target a certain niche and see how well it turns out.
Before we start let me present what Goosebumps is and what it meant to me growing up.
What is Goosebumps?
The Stephen King of Children Horror Series
I don’t know how many of my generation had the opportunity to read some of R.L. Stine’s outstanding Goosebumps books but I was lucky to be constantly terrified by mirrors, basements and puppets all throughout my childhood.
You may be of the few who have no idea what I’m talking about, Goosebumps is the second most sold book series ever, a kid ‘short’ horror stories book series that sold more than 400 million copies worldwide.
Wonder what is the number one book series by sold copies? Harry Potter sold more than 500 million so that’s the league Goosebumps is in. The outstanding popularity lead to multiple series and even movies being produced after the original series ended in 1997.
The aspect that was truly unique about every edition was the uncanny, perspective warping and terrifying cover. Even if the book was not entirely great the cover always managed to impress the reader.
Tim Jacobus, the main illustrator of the original series imagined the covers with warping perspectives, presenting a different reality yet grounded in our own, oh yeah and most importantly “No red blood” as he stated.
I can’t help but wonder, what if R.L. Stine started publishing books nowadays and decided to use AI and GAN’s to generate new it’s covers?
Enough with the jibber jabber you are here to see some AI imagining horrid book covers from titles it considered truly frightening.
Generating Book Titles
Let the AI decide what it wants
Writers like their titles but differ very differently in coming up with it, after imagining the story or before even coming with the plot, Stine was the kind of author that always came up with a good title before even thinking about the story.
I’ve written a few articles and the way I determine the title is comically accidental, I just happen to listen to a YouTube video or read an article and then I go: “Wait I can do that with AI”. I create a draft with just the title and worry later about the content.
This time I’ll do it the right way, going the extra AI mile to achieve modern, automated, buzzword fiesta title generation.
I just started using Jasper.ai (previously Jarvis), an AI writing assistant software, it can generate all kinds of written content from blog/media posts to even spooky titles (hopefully).
I didn’t even ask and it already came up with the following gory titles:
- The Girl Who Cried Blood
- The Boy Who Lived in the Woods
- The Girl Who Ate Her Own Skin
They are sort of similar to R.L. Stine’s writing style, “The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb”, “The Ghost Next Door” or “The Haunted School” so I decided to use those suggestions.
Creating Horror Book Covers
Change prompt and press run … 3 hours later
I’ll use the same methods I’ve showcased in I Used AI To Create Marvelous Art For Blog Images, so prepare to be startled at the sight of magnificent terror.
Firstly I’ll insert the titles one by one into the Google Colab file used in text2art. I tweaked the prompt multiple times to get a style as similar to Goosebumps cover but still somehow fell short of the goal.
I won’t show book cover for the third title since it was particularly disgusting and fear inducing but the other 2 titles have an eery look although the AI had some trouble with the text and attempted to draw it within the illustrations causing a mumbled appearance.
I’ve only run the colab twice since each run took more than 30 minutes to complete, maybe the AI was getting spooked and took breaks to cope with the horrifying creation it was forced to make.
Moving on to the second contender of book cover generation — Dream by WOMBO. Fantastic mobile app that lets you roll the dice for art of diverse styles in seconds. I first tried every art style in search for the one that resembles Goosebumps book covers the most but nothing really stood out.
Those are the best I’ve curated in no particular order, be wary it’s not for weak souls, I’ll showcase a select few here as they may not be entirely user friendly but here is the link to all the images I’ve generated.
Moments before scheduling the article for publishing I discovered a ‘secret’ way to generate perfect covers, first take a peek at the marvelous results:
You may be stupefied by how exactly similar those are to the original “Monster Blood” cover and you are rightfully so because they are that illustration but with a twist.
There’s an option in Dream where you can add an input image so the model can bootstrap it’s magic from, you can call it a glorified artsy filter that builds upon an image into a different style with slight variations.
I’ve seen so many gory and mind-boggling images while writing this that I’ll likely have sleepless nights for a while but I hope you liked this short “AI/Horror” story, don’t forget to clap 👏 and follow for more software-related content 🚀 & more AI articles coming sooner than you can say “Metaverses are multi-level marketing scheme’s”.
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